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21 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 10 Jun 2019 Germany

German Draft Legislation Would Enable Intelligence Agencies to Spy on Journalists

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner CPJ AEJ EFJ/IFJ RSF
Partner CPJ AEJ EFJ/IFJ RSF
The German Ministry of the Interior's draft legislation would remove protections prohibiting the country's domestic and foreign intelligence services from hacking journalists' computers and smartphones during terrorism investigations.

Under current German law, journalists, along with priests, lawyers, doctors, and members of parliament, are granted special protected status to limit their surveillance by intelligence agencies. The new legislation would remove some of the protections for journalists but maintain them for the other groups. The law would also loosen the restrictions on Germany's domestic and international intelligence agencies' ability to use spyware -- software installed on a computer without the user's knowledge to transmit data about the user's activities -- to surveil targets.

The draft of the law was originally reported by German digital rights group NetzPolitik in March 2019, but Ministry of the Interior declined to propose it to the Bundestag, Germany's federal parliament, because of opposition by the Social Democratic Party, according to media reports. However, the Social Democratic Party is waning in influence in the country following the recent European elections, increasing the chances that the bill could be passed.

On 30 May 2019, the German Federation of Journalists, an independent professional association and trade union, published a statement urging the Ministry of the Interior to drop the draft legislation, which it said could violate Article 5 of the country's postwar constitution, which protects newsroom privacy.

The Ministry disputed such claims, saying that the legislation is focused on fighting extremists and is not intended to impinge on newsroom privacy.
State replies
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20 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 09 May 2019 Ukraine

Ukrainian Journalist in Coma Following Assault

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index RPT RSF
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index RPT RSF
On 4 May 2019, a passersby found investigative reporter Vadym Komarov in downtown Cherkasy, a city in eastern Ukraine, with severe head injuries and called an ambulance and the police, according to news reports. He was taken to a local hospital, and has been in a coma after undergoing brain surgery on the same day; his condition has been described as "grave," according to those reports. On the day of the attack, the Cherkasy police department issued a statement announcing that it had opened an investigation. On 5 May, the case was classified as attempted murder, according to news reports. Police did not specify whether they believed Komarov was targeted for his reporting. On 3 May, Komarov wrote on his Facebook page that he planned to publish information related to sports schools "in the coming days." The journalist's most recent work includes a report on protests in prisons for the independent Ukrainian news website Dzvin.
Updates
New 20 Jun 2019
On the night of 20 June 2019, the journalist, who remained in a coma since surgery following the attack on 4 May, died.
Additional Information
Follow-ups
20 Jun 2019
New OSCE Media Representative deeply shocked by death of journalist Vadim Komarov in Ukraine, calls on authorities to bring perpetrators to justice
20 Jun 2019
New The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights deeply saddened by the death of investigative journalist Vadym Komarov
09 May 2019
New OSCE Media Freedom Representative appalled by attempted murder of journalist in Cherkasy, Ukraine, calls for effective investigation.
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19 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 08 Nov 2017 Russian Federation

Russian Editor Arrested, Allegedly Injured in Custody; Newspaper Raided

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner CPJ AEJ EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ AEJ EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
The editor-in-chief and owner of the independent, Kaliningrad-based weekly Novye Kolyosa, Igor Rudnikov, was allegedly beaten while in custody of Russia's security service (FSB) and faces criminal prosecution. On the night of 1 November 2017, the FSB also raided the Novye Kolyosa office.

According to the Novye Kolyosa staff, Rudnikov was first detained at his house and brought to the newsroom in handcuffs with his hand swollen. Nearly a dozen officers in heavy armor and facemasks raided the newsroom and conducted a search that lasted for over five hours. Rudnikov was interrogated in a room separate from the rest of the staff. Rudnikov was then hospitalized with a concussion, a broken arm, and a broken rib, according to press reports and the paper staff.

At around 2 a.m. on 2 November, Rudnikov was taken in his underwear from his hospital bed to his home where security forces conducted further searches. The law enforcement also searched his mother's house. Officers then placed Rudnikov in a Kaliningrad FSB detention center.

On 3 November 2017, Rudnikov appeared at a local court to hear charges against him. The authorities charged Rudnikov with accepting a bribe from Viktor Ledenyov, head of the Kaliningrad branch of Russia's investigative committee. The judge denied the defense's request to place Rudnikov, who appeared with a cast on his hand, under house arrest to receive medical treatment, and ruled that the suspect should remain in custody until 1 January 2018 pending investigation, media reported.

Rudnikov's colleague told CPJ they believe the charges are in retaliation for Novye Kolyosa's series of reports about a luxury villa in Kaliningrad allegedly belonging to Ledenyov .
Updates
New 19 Jun 2019
On 17 June 2019, the Moscovsky district court in St Petersburg dropped the charge of ‘financial extortion’ against Igor Rudnikov, and instead found him guilty of a lesser charge of “acting without lawful authority”. The Court sentenced Rudnikov to 550 hours of community work, but let him be released as he had been held for more than 15 months during the trial process.
New 07 Jun 2019
At the start of the trial on 6 June 2019, the prosecutor requested 10 years in prison for Igor Rudnikov, on extorsion charges.
14 Feb 2019
Igor Rudnikov is due to appear in court on extortion charges in St. Petersburg on 14 February 2019.
01 Feb 2019
On 1 February 2019, the Kaliningrad Regional Court, at the behest of Roskomnadzor, closed the newspaper “Novye Kolyosa”. The defense announced that it would appeal the decision, up to the European Court of Human Rights.
05 Nov 2018
An order was issued on 26 September 2018 extending Igor Rudnikov's preventive detention by another six months.
27 Jul 2018
On 28 June 2018, the Moscow Basmanny Court extended Igor Rudnikov’s pre-trial detention until 1st September 2018.
18 Apr 2018
On 29 March 2018, a Moscow court extended Igor Rudnikov's pre-trial detention for another two months.
05 Mar 2018
On 2 December 2018, a month after his arrest, Igor Rudnikov was transferred to Moscow. He is currently held under a provisional detention order valid until 1 April 2018.
Follow-ups
19 Jun 2019
New OSCE media freedom representative welcomes release of journalist Igor Rudnikov, calls on authorities in Russia to drop all charges
07 Nov 2018
One year after arrest of Russian journalist Igor Rudnikov, OSCE Representative reiterates call for his release
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19 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 19 Jun 2019 Azerbaijan

Journalist Polad Aslanov Arrested, Jailed and Charged with High Treason

1 Journalist in detention
Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner CPJ AEJ Index
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ AEJ Index
On 14 June 2019, the Sabail district court in Baku ordered Polad Aslanov, chief editor of independent news websites Xeberman and Press-az, to remain in detention for four months pending an investigation on charges of high treason following his arrest on 12 June 2019, according to his lawyer, Elchin Sadygov. If found guilty, he could be jailed for life, in accordance with Article 274 of the Azerbaijani criminal code. Azerbaijani authorities had arrested Aslanov with his wife and daughter at a border crossing on 12 June, when he attempted to enter Iran to attend a friend's wedding, according to the regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel. The following day, the state security service had issued a statement accusing Aslanov of conspiring to sell secret information to foreign governments and publishing anti-government statements online. His wife and daughter were released after being briefly detained, and authorities had confiscated Aslanov's camera, computer and phone, according to Kavkazsky Uzel. Sadygov said Aslanov denied the charges and believed they were in retaliation for the his criticism of public officials and laws. Sadygov also said the journalist was preparing to publish an investigation into alleged corruption in the tourism sector involving high-ranking government officials before his arrest.
Journalists in detention

Currently in detention (1):

Polad Aslanov
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17 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 17 Jun 2019 Turkey

Turkey Charges Bloomberg Reporters with Undermining the Economy

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner CPJ IPI
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ IPI
On 13 June 2019, a criminal court in Istanbul accepted an indictment charging the Bloomberg reporters Kerim Karakaya and Fercan Yalınkılıç with undermining Turkey's economic stability, and requesting that they be imprisoned, according to their employer and media reports. The indictment comes after the Turkish banking regulator BDDK filed a criminal complaint, according to reports. The charges stem from an article written by Karakaya and Yalınkılıç and published on 10 August 2018 describing how Turkish authorities and banks were responding to the currency shock. The indictment also names 36 people who allegedly shared and commented on the Bloomberg report via social media, according to reports. They are accused of sharing "false, wrong, or deceptive information" to affect the markets. Under Turkey's Capital Market Law No. 107/2, the charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, or a judicial fine. Bloomberg's editor-in-chief John Micklethwait condemned the indictment and said that the journalists had reported "fairly and accurately on newsworthy events." The criminal court is due to hear the case on 20 September 2019.
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17 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 17 Jun 2019 Russian Federation

Editor Abdulmumin Gadzhiev Detained in Russia on Terrorism Charges

1 Journalist in detention
Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner CPJ Index
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ Index
On 14 June 2019, the security services of the Republic of Dagestan arrested journalist Abdulmumin Gadzhiev, editor of the religious section of Makhachkala-based newspaper Chernovik, on terrorism charges, according to his employer and media reports. They also searched his home in his absence, and seized phones and computers, according to the same sources. Gadzhiev's lawyer said the journalist is facing criminal charges of participation in a terrorist organisation for allegedly wiring money to a man suspected by the Russian government of financing terrorist organizations, according to news website MBK News. Chernovik's staff denied the charges and alleged they were in retaliation for Gazhiyev's work, the news outlet reported. If found guilty, Gadzhiev could face up to 20 years in prison, in accordance with the Russian criminal code.
Journalists in detention

Currently in detention (1):

Abdulmumin Gadzhiev
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14 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 04 Jun 2019 Italy

Journalist Roberto Saviano Threatened with Withdrawal of his Police Protection

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ RSF
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ RSF
On 29 May 2019, Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini published a video on Facebook in which he threatened journalist Roberto Saviano with the withdrawal of his police protection from mafia. Saviano has been under constant police protection since 2006, after he published the book “Gomorrah”, denouncing the practices of the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia.
In the video, Matteo Salvini sends a kiss to the camera, saying "A kiss to Saviano. I'm working on a revision of the criteria for the escorts that every day in Italy commit more than two thousand law enforcement workers." This is not the first time that Salvini has threatened Saviano to take away his police protection. In 2017, Matteo Salvini had already stated that he "assessed whether there was any risk" justifying the security measures for Saviano, "in order to see where the Italians' money was going."
State replies
14 Jun 2019
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14 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 14 Jun 2019 Slovak Republic

Mass Surveillance Operation on Slovak Journalists

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner IPI AEJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner IPI AEJ RSF
Slovak media in April revealed the existence of a massive surveillance operation on journalists conducted between March 2017 and February 2018 by a former intelligence agent, Peter Tóth, on behalf of Marian Kočner, the disgraced businessman charged with ordering the murders of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová. The leading Slovak daily SME today published reports that a small, organised group worked with Tóth to gather information to be used by Kočner apparently to discredit journalists, including those working for SME, Aktuality.sk, Trend and Denník N. The group closely monitored the targets’ personal lives and daily activities, going so far as to monitor journalists as they picked up their children from kindergarden. SME also said members of the group sat in a parked car every day in front of the newspaper’s office to follow one of its journalists, Adam Valček. Media also reported that the surveillance team obtained extensive access to official police databases, collecting private data on journalists ranging from vehicle license plates to tax information. According to reports, information about Kuciak obtained through the surveillance operation was used by the individuals suspected of carrying out the double murder in February 2018.
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14 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 14 Jun 2019 Romania

Romanian Investigative Journalist Diana Oncioiu Receives Anonymous Death Threat

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner CPJ AEJ
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ AEJ
On 11 June 2019, an unidentified man using an anonymous phone number called Diana Oncioiu, an investigative reporter at independent news websites Dela0 and Sa Fie Lumina, and threatened to kill her if she continued to write about the Romanian Orthodox Church, according to the reporter.

Oncioiu filed a criminal complaint with the Bucharest police after receiving the call. In an interview with the Romanian edition of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S. Congress-funded media outlet, Oncioiu said that the threat was likely related to her ongoing investigative work into allegations of pedophilia and other abuses at a theological seminary in Huși, a town in Eastern Romania.

Sa Fie Lumina confirmed that a threat had been made against one of its reporters and vowed to continue its investigative work into alleged sexual abuse at the seminary. Speaking with Romanian news website HotNews, Vasile Bănescu, a spokesperson for the Romanian Orthodox Church, rejected any association with the threats and said he hoped the perpetrator would be identified.
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14 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 14 Jun 2019 Germany

Austrian Politician Heinz-Christian Strache Sues German Newspapers over 'Ibiza Video'

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner CPJ
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ
On 4 June 2019, former Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache filed two identical criminal complaints at the public prosecutor's offices in Munich and Hamburg against "all persons" who were "responsible for the production, distribution, and publication of the so-called Ibiza video," according to the text of the complaint confirmed by the Munich prosecutor's office in an email to CPJ. The "Ibiza video" refers to a video first published on May 17 by independent German newspapers Süddeutsche Zeitung, based in Munich, and Der Spiegel, based in Hamburg, which shows Strache talking in Ibiza, Spain, in 2017 with a woman who was posing as an investor connected to Russian oligarchs, which raised questions about Russian influence in Austrian politics and media. Following publication, Strache, then Austria's vice chancellor and chairman of its right-wing Freedom Party, resigned from his government post and his leadership in the party, and the country's governing coalition collapsed. Strache's complaint, which does not mention the outlets or any journalists by name, alleges that the publication of the video constituted a violation of privacy and slanderous harm to his reputation, allegations that could carry a maximum of five years in prison for anyone charged and found guilty. Following his resignation, Strache alleged that he had been the victim of illegal entrapment and a concerted "dirty campaign" to discredit him. It remains unclear who filmed the video, and the newspapers have not revealed their sources.
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13 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 05 Jun 2019 Russian Federation

Investigative Journalist Ivan Golunov, Known For His Investigations Into Political Corruption, Arrested For “Selling Drugs”

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner Index AEJ CPJ EFJ/IFJ
No state reply yet
Partner Index AEJ CPJ EFJ/IFJ
On 6 June 2019, investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was detained by police and accused of drug dealing. Golunov is a journalist with the online news website, Meduza, and he is also known for investigating political corruption and criminality in the city of Moscow. Meduza had recently received threats in relation to a story he was pursuing. At around 14.30 on 6 June 2019, Golunov was on his way to meet with a source when several policemen stopped him near Tsvetnoy Bulvar metro station in Moscow and searched his backpack. They told him that they found a package, which contained four grams of the synthetic stimulant mephedrone. Golunov denied that the package belonged to him. He was arrested and taken to the police station. Golunov is reported to have requested that swabs be taken of his hands and fingernails to prove that he had not been in contact with the drugs, but police refused to do so. Police also refused to forensically examine of the journalist’s backpack. In a statement, police said they found more drugs and some scales in his apartment, and that they had opened a criminal investigation. If convicted Golunov could face a sentence of up to 20 years. According to information received, Golunov was deprived of his right to call his lawyer or colleagues more than 12 hours after his arrest. He was also physically assaulted by the police during the interrogation, after which police refused to call medics to address the injuries that he had sustained. On 7 June 2019, journalists picketed Moscow City’s Police Headquarters in protest at Galunov’s detention. Police subsequently began detaining the picketing journalists, twelve of whom have been briefly detained before being released. The CEO and editor-in-chief of Meduza published the following statement after Golunov's arrest: “We are convinced that Ivan Golunov is innocent. Moreover, we have reason to think that he is prosecuted for his journalistic activity. [...] Meduza will be closely watching every action of the investigators in Golunov case. We will find out whose will is behind the prosecution – and we will make this information public. We will defend our journalist with all available means”.
Updates
New 13 Jun 2019
On the 12 June 2019, a protest in solidarity with Ivan Golunov took place in Moscow. Approximately 1,200 protesters took to the streets to march to the city’s police headquarters, holding signs and wearing t-shirts with the slogan “I am/We are Ivan Golunov”. The march, which was not granted approval from municipal authorities in advance, was forcibly dispersed by riot police. Several hundred protesters – possibly as many as 549 – are understood to have been detained by Moscow police. About 40 journalists, from Russian and international news outlets, were among those detained. Several journalists reported showing their press cards to the police at the time of detention. The journalists were held in police stations for various periods of time; some for up to six hours. By 19:00 local time, most of the journalists are understood to have been released. Most were released without charge, but at least three journalists - Ilya Azar, Elizaveta Nesterova, and Evgeny Berg - were charged with “participation in an unsanctioned action that caused traffic disturbance”.
12 Jun 2019
Russian police have dropped all charges against Ivan Golunov. The Russian Federation’s interior minister, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, said the decision had been taken due to a lack of evidence. Kolokoltsev also said that some of the police officers that were involved in the case were being temporarily removed from duty pending an investigation “to assess the legality” of their actions. He said that he planned to ask President Vladimir Putin to dismiss two more senior police officials. Golunov was released from house arrest on Tuesday evening.
10 Jun 2019
On 8 June 2019, the Nikulino district court in Moscow ordered that Ivan Golunov remain under house arrest until 7 August 2019, pending his trial.
Follow-ups
10 Jun 2019
New The Secretary General of the Council of Europe calls on the Minister of Interior of the Russian Federation "to personally address this situation."
07 Jun 2019
New Detention of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in Russia deeply worrying says OSCE media freedom representative, calls on authorities to release him.
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11 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 23 Apr 2019 Finland

Finland: Court Convicts Journalist Johanna Vehkoo on Defamation Charges

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner CPJ EFJ/IFJ RSF
Partner CPJ EFJ/IFJ RSF
On 12 April 2019, a court in Oulou, in central Finland, found investigative journalist Johanna Vehkoo guilty of criminal defamation of Oulou City Councilor Junes Lokka. The suit relates to comments by Vehkoo in a private Facebook group, in which she referred to Lokka as "racist" and a "Nazi clown," according to local news reports, a statement by the Union of Journalists in Finland, a local media workers union, and Vehkoo, who spoke with CPJ. Vehoo considers the case as retaliation for her reporting, according to the statement. Vehkoo reports on the far right and writes a fact-checking column for Finnish public broadcaster Yleisradio Oy, and co-founded the investigative website Longplay, according to the union statement. CPJ emailed Lokka for comment but did not receive a reply. Vehkoo was sentenced to pay a total of 150 euros to the state and 200 euros to Lokka for damages, and was also required to reimburse Lokka's legal fees, which amounted to 6,000 euros. Vehkoo intends to file an appeal. Vehkoo told CPJ that she made the Facebook comments on 2 November 2016. At the time, Lokka was an activist who had run for various elected posts since 2012 on an anti-European Union platform, according to his personal website. Lokka filed the defamation suit against Vehkoo in October 2018, after being elected in March 2017 and nearly two years after her original comments, according to Yleisradio Oy. Lokka, who co-hosts the YouTube show "Monokulttuuri FM" (Monoculture FM), has repeatedly targeted Vehkoo on social media since late 2016, calling her reporting "lies" on Twitter and making her the subject of several of his YouTube broadcasts, according to a CPJ review of Lokka's social media activity. "According to the district court of Oulu, one cannot call anyone a racist or a Nazi, as it is always defamation," Vehkoo told CPJ. "I was describing the ideology and tactics of a far-right activist and politician. This should definitely be within freedom of speech." According to Helsingin Sanomat, Lokka has denied harassing Vehkoo.
Updates
New 11 Jun 2019
On 13 May 2019, the judgement was appealed by Ms Vehkoo.
State replies
11 Jun 2019
New Reply by the Government of Finland
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11 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 12 Nov 2015 Finland

Finland: Unclear Legal Framework for Guaranteeing Journalists’ Rights Covering Protests

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ Article 19 Index
Partner EFJ/IFJ Article 19 Index
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on 20 October 2015 by a majority (the President and three other judges dissenting), that Finland did not violate the freedom of expression of photographer Markus Pentikäinen. Mr Pentikäinen, a photographer for the Finnish magazine Suomen Kuvalehti, was arrested for failing to comply with the police order to leave the scene of the demonstration while he was taking photographs towards the end end of the 2006 Smash Asem protest in Helsinki which was violently broken up by the police. Mr Pentikäinen was held in police cells for over 17 hours and was subsequently prosecuted and found guilty of imputed criminal liability. The current situation creates an ongoing threat of arrest and prosecution to journalists covering demonstrations, as police forces and prosecutors will be inclined not to make any difference between the protesters and the journalists covering the event. European governments have now considerable latitude in imposing intrusive measures on journalistic activity in public settings where force is likely to be used by law-enforcement officials. The EFJ, the IFJ, Index on Censorship and Article 19 call on Finland and other CoE member states to adopt a clear legal framework for the treatment of journalists during protests, in order to ensure the right balance between press freedom and public order during protests and demonstrations.
State replies
11 Jun 2019
New Reply by the Government of Finland
Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer
Disclaimer
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07 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 18 Apr 2019 Italy

Italy: Journalist Valentino Gonzato Assaulted, Robbed while Reporting in Park

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner CPJ
Partner CPJ
On 2 April 2019, Valentino Gonzato, an Italian reporter with the daily newspaper Il Giornale di Vicenza, was assaulted by a group of seven people while reporting in Fornaci Park in Vicenza, a city in Northern Italy, according to his employer. The group threatened the reporter, spat on him, and punched and kicked him, according to Il Giornale di Vicenza; members of the group also stole his phone. The paper reported that Gonzato suffered injuries and was taken to a local emergency room. It did not specify the extent of his injuries. According to regional news website Il Gazettino, police intervened in the assault and arrested seven people. The police also recovered Gonzato's phone, the website reported. CPJ emailed questions about the investigation to the local police in Vicenza but did not receive a reply. CPJ's emailed request for comment to Il Giornale di Vicenza also did not receive a response. According to Il Giornale di Vicenza, Gonzato was documenting the presence of drug dealers and tent encampments in the park when he was attacked.
State replies
07 Jun 2019
New Response from the Italian authorities
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06 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 15 Apr 2019 Azerbaijan

Anar Mammadov Gets Suspended Prison Sentence

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner RPT CPJ
No state reply yet
Partner RPT CPJ
On 18 March 2019, Anar Mammadov, the editor of the Criminal.az website, was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison with a two-year probation period. The Baku Court for Serious Crimes found Mammadov guilty of making public calls against the state, abuse of professional duties and forgery. Mammadov insisted that his website reposted only articles by other sources and agencies. The investigation of the Mammadov's case began in 2018 after the Prosecutor-General’s Office accused him of distributing false information regarding the attack against the mayor of Ganca, and a massive power outage following the explosion at a thermal power station in Mingacevir. During the two-year probation period, the journalist is banned from changing his place of residence and leaving the country.
Updates
New 06 Jun 2019
On 4 June 2019, the Baku Court of Appeal upheld the verdict. The defence intends to file a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan.
New 04 Jun 2019
On 4 June 2019, Anar Mammadov is set to appear in a Baku court to appeal his conviction on false news, anti-state and other charges, for which he was given a suspended sentence of five and a half years in jail.
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06 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 05 Jun 2019 Poland

Polish Court Bans Reporter Anna Wilk from Journalism for 3 years in Criminal Libel Suit

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner CPJ AEJ EFJ/IFJ
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ AEJ EFJ/IFJ
On 24 May 2019, a district court in Poznań, in western Poland, ordered Anna Wilk, a reporter for local weekly newspaper Gazeta Powiatowa in the town of Legionowo, to pay damages and a fine totaling US$1,800 and banned her from working in the media or publishing houses as a journalist for three years, according to media news sites Wirtualne Media and Press.pl. The charges were brought against Wilk in a private bill of indictment based on Article 212 of the Polish penal code by Amica, an electric appliances company listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, following her reporting in the newspaper and on Facebook on 23 March 2017, about the suicide of a company employee, according to Press.pl. Press.pl reported that the company requested a suspended prison sentence against Wilk; the penal code allows a maximum one-year sentence for criminal libel. In an interview with news site Onet, and in an email to CPJ, Wilk said she would appeal the verdict and vowed to continue her reporting on the complaints of Amica's employees. In an email statement sent to CPJ, Amica's PR manager, Tomasz Pietrzyk, said that in the company's view Wilk's reporting was "unreliable, defamatory and ungrounded," and "not based on any evidence." He added that the company would pursue the case in the hopes that a court of higher instance will affirm the ruling.
Follow-ups
06 Jun 2019
New OSCE Media Freedom Representative raises serious concerns about banning of journalist Anna Wilk in Poland from practising profession for three years.
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06 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 06 Jun 2019 France

Violent Attack Against France 3 Cameraman

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
On 3 June 2019, a journalist working for the public broadcaster France 3 Normandie was attacked while filming in front of the mosque As-salam in Petit-Couronne, a city near Rouen. The cameraman was alone taking background footage of the mosque for a report on the imam who was facing trial the same day, when suddenly a man, followed by a group of around 20 men, asked him to stop filming. The journalist was hit, thrown on the ground and had his camera broken. He was then locked up in the compound of the mosque, until the police intervened. The journalist was in shock, slightly injured and given five days of medical leave.

One of the alleged assaillant was arrested on 3 June and taken into custody. He was then charged with violent robbery in a group on 5 June and set under judicial supervision. According to media report, it would be the president of the association that manages the mosque.
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05 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 05 Jun 2019 Russian Federation

Russian Video Blogger Vadim Kharchenko Attacked, Injured in Krasnodar

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner CPJ Index
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ Index
On 1st June 2019, unknown assailants attacked Krasnodar-based Kharchenko, founder of the YouTube channel "Lichnoe Mneniye" ("Personal Opinion"), after he went to meet a potential source, according to a video account posted by Kharchenko on his channel and Russian media reports. Kharchenko claimed in the video that two men shot at him several times, "probably from a non-lethal weapon" –such as a pellet gun or a rubber-bullet gun– hitting him in the abdomen. He also said the assailants hit him in the head and stabbed him several times, including in his right hand and arm. He alleged that the attack was related to the posts on his YouTube channel.

On his YouTube channel, Kharchenko reports and comments on protests and conducts investigations into alleged police abuse of power to his more than 175,000 subscribers.

According to the video blogger's account and media reports, the attack took place after Kharchenko went to a meeting with a police informant who had promised to deliver evidence that a regional police department in Krasnodar was falsifying criminal cases. Kharchenko said that he was on his way home after the informant had not showed up when somebody fired at him from behind at a distance of about five meters. He ran at one of the assailants, who attacked him with a knife. After exchanging several blows and stabbing and hitting Kharchenko, the attackers ran from the scene. Kharchenko found a ride to the hospital where he underwent treatment for his injuries, he said in the video.

The officer on duty in the Karasun department of the Ministry of Interior in Krasnodar told CPJ over the phone that he would not provide any information on the incident to parties other than Kharchenko himself.
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05 Jun 2019 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 14 May 2018 Bulgaria

Bulgaria: Investigative journalist attacked

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner Index AEJ CPJ EFJ/IFJ RSF
Partner Index AEJ CPJ EFJ/IFJ RSF
On 10 May 2018, investigative journalist Hristo Geshov was attacked and assaulted outside his home in the town of Cherven Bryag in northwestern Bulgaria, desant.net reports.

“I attribute this attack entirely to my investigative reporting and to the warnings I sent to the authorities about the management of finances by the Cherven Bryag municipal government,” Geshov wrote in a Facebook post a few hours after being punched in the stomach and back by an unidentified assailant. “Despite the pain and many bruises, I am sure that I will not abandon my work, and the attack against me is a sign that I am right,” he added.

Geshov writes for the regional investigative reporting website Za Istinata, works with the journalistic online platform “About the Truth” and hosts a programme called “On Target” that is available on YouTube.

He began being harassed after a series of articles about municipal government irregularities in Cherven Bryag in which he claimed, inter alia, that three municipal councillors were using European Union funds to renovate their homes.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the attack. “This attack is indicative of the degree to which investigative reporters are now being targeted by groups that want to silence them and impose terror,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk. “We hail the swift reaction of the police and medical services, but the Bulgarian authorities must also provide physical protection to journalists who, like Hristo Geshov, are the targets of threats of this kind.”
Updates
New 05 Jun 2019
On 14 May 2019, according to the statement of Hristo Geshov, the journalist was abducted by three unidentified individuals, who drove him in their car all night, until his report on the illegal water supply was removed from the Zov News website. On 14 May 2019, Zov News and Bivol announced that Geshov had disappeared. Maria Dimitrova, an editor-in-chief of Zov News said that Geshov's mother and sister had contacted her earlier that day saying they were unable to establish contact with the reporter. Dimitrova stated that she received a phone call early on 15 May from a man who did not identify himself, who asked that she remove the article and the video of Geshov's investigation on the alleged illegal water supply and sewage system in exchange for Geshov's release. On 15 May 2019 she removed the article from Zov News and the video from YouTube. Geshov has testified about the incident to the Bulgarian national police. CPJ could not independently verify the journalist's account of his abduction.
State replies
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05 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 04 Sep 2018 United Kingdom

United Kingdom: Two Journalists Arrested over Alleged Theft of Documents relating to Northern Ireland Massacre

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner Index AEJ EFJ/IFJ
Partner Index AEJ EFJ/IFJ
Two journalists involved in the making of a recent documentary about the killing of six men in the Northern Ireland village of Loughinisland in 1994 were arrested on 31 August 2018 in connection with the alleged theft of confidential documents from the office of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (PONI), the Belfast Telegraph reported.
The two men, film producer Trevor Birney and journalist Barry McCaffrey, were both involved in the making of the 2017 documentary film No Stone Unturned, directed by Alex Gibney. The film examined the police investigation into the murders – for which no one has yet been charged – and looked especially at allegations of collusion between the police and the loyalist gunmen who shot dead six men in a Loughinisland bar. It generated considerable controversy upon its release in November 2017 by naming the main suspects in the killings. Birney and McCaffrey were released on bail later on 31 August.
Updates
New 05 Jun 2019
On 29 May 2019, the High Court in Belfast ordered that the search warrants obtained by police be quashed. The senior judges said that they were “minded to quash the warrants on the basis that they were inappropriate.” Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan said that the question of remedy would be discussed on Friday, 31 May. On 31 May 2019, Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan, ordered that the seized documents be returned to Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey. Mr Justice Morgan said that the material "does not indicate that the journalists acted in anything other than a perfectly proper manner”. He said that the granting of the search warrants was “inappropriate” and called for the documents to be returned: “We consider that there’s no reason why, subject to suitable protections, for declining to return the material in their entirety to the journalists." On 3 June 2019, the criminal investigation into Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey was dropped. The Durham constabulary and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) announced on Monday night that they were no longer investigating the two journalists.
21 Mar 2019
On 20 March 2019, the journalists’ lawyers challenged the search warrants again in court. They argued there was no evidence in the public interest for the redactions made to the search warrant applications. The legal challenge to the search warrants has been granted a judicial review scheduled for May 2019.
02 Mar 2019
On 1 March 2019, Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey again reported to the police and the Police attempted to amend the existing bail conditions to prevent the journalists from talking publicly about the ongoing police investigation and witnesses. This attempted restriction of their freedom of speech was successfully opposed by their lawyers. On this occasion the journalists’ (pre-charge) bail was extended for the second time and until September 2019.
05 Feb 2019
On 4 February 2019, Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey won permission to challenge the legality of search warrants. Lawyers representing the journalists and Fine Point Films, the company behind the film No Stone Unturned, contend the warrants did not cover all of the material seized reports the Irish News. In the High Court in Belfast they were granted leave to seek a judicial review on all grounds of challenge - including a claim that relying on the Official Secrets Act to obtain the warrants was incompatible with their freedom of expression rights under European law.
State replies
19 Sep 2018
Follow-ups
04 Sep 2018
OSCE media freedom representative seriously concerned by arrest of journalists in UK
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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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